Loneliness in older people is linked to an increased risk for serious illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and depression.
It’s an issue that’s long concerned health workers who deal with older patients, but a new UCLA study of 40 people, aged 55-85, suggests a solution may not be hard to come by.
The eight-week study trained subjects in a simple meditation program, which focused mainly on paying attention to the present and refusing to dwell in the past. Those patients who practiced the meditation exercise showed measurable reductions in loneliness and in gene inflammation (measured by blood tests).
Meditation’s effect on reducing gene inflammation is an especially important finding, researchers say, because chronic gene inflammation is known to promote a number of physical diseases and psychological disorders.
The study appears in the current online edition of the journal Brain, Behavior & Immunity.